What do we know about vaccine supply and is it rate-limiting?

There is,as yet, little official information on some of the critical factors in the vaccine roll-out.

Owl has been scouring the press to try to find out what is known about vaccine supply when it became clear that the Government’s original target had not been met. 

This comes from a longer article in the Telegraph: 

Robert Mendick, 3 January 2021 www.telegraph.co.uk

On Vaccine Supply: 

“Mr Johnson has blamed a lack of vaccine supply for the current take-up. “The rate-limiting factor at the moment, as they say, is supply not distribution,” he told a Downing Street press conference. Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has said “vaccine shortage is a reality that cannot be wished away”.

But the pharmaceutical companies disagree. There are officially 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine ready to go from Monday, along with an additional 450,000 arriving in the next 24 hours, according to Professor Sir John Bell, the Oxford University regius professor of medicine and a Government adviser. 

On top of that, a further three million Oxford doses are in vials awaiting safety checks – a process that should take a few days – with 15 million more waiting for “fill and finish”, the process of filling vials and packaging the vaccine for distribution. AstraZeneca says that process is straightforward and also should take only days. 

Each batch, according to Government sources, needs to pass a 20-day sterility test and randomised quality checks before it can be used, requiring a staggered delivery.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has shipped “millions” of doses to the UK in 21 shipments, the first of which contained 800,000 doses. The Telegraph understands there are about five million Pfizer doses in vials ready for use in the UK. 

Added up, there are close to 24 million doses of vaccine either ready for use or available in a short space of time. 

The Government has committed to buy 40 million Pfizer doses and 100 million from Oxford/AstraZeneca. Both firms say they are on track to deliver the vaccines to the Government’s agreed timetable.”